City of Chicago Launches OpenData ETL Utility Kit

The City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology released the OpenData ETL Utility Kit at the Code for America Summit this morning. The ETL Utility Toolkit will give cities the same tools Chicago uses to get data from their own internal systems and unto their data portals.

Chicago River South Branch from the Cityscape Bar

Photo by Chris Smith Photography

We’ll explain why this is such a big deal and what ETL is below the fold!

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Brigade Training: Leveling up Your Civic Hacking Event by Christopher Whitaker

Editor’s Note: Today, Smart Chicago Consultant and Brigade Regional Coordinator Christopher Whitaker will be giving a training on how to level up your civic hacking event. Christopher is one of the co-hosts of the nationally renowned Chicago OpenGov Hack Night as well as running a number of events for Smart Chicago including Chicago’s National Day of Civic Hacking.  We’ve put his slides and training notes below the fold.

OpenGov Hack Night 1/21/13

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The Launch of the CUTGroup Book

Today we’re launching a website and book, The CUTGroup Book,, centered around propagating the components, tools, and methods of our Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup) program.

The CUTGroup is a set of regular Chicago residents who get paid to test civic apps. We started the program in February 2013 and it has grown to include 800 people. We’ve learned a lot and we want to share.

We cover the hardware and software you need, methods for tester and developer recruitment, test design, location scouting, and results analysis. We show detailed budgets, exact website configurations, complete text of recruitment emails, the raw results of every test we’ve conducted, and all the other nuts and bolts it takes to make a CUTGroup in your city.

You can download a PDF of the book for free or order it as a real book on Amazon. Also read about the contributions of dozens of people who made this thing happen.


All hail the people of CUTGroup!

Chicago Region’s Civic Innovation Community at the Code for America Summit!

This week is a great week for civic innovation—the Code for America Summit in San Francisco is here. Smart Chicago will be there in force. I will be there, as well as consultants Christopher Whitaker and Josh Kalov. (Along with about a dozen other representatives from Chicago’s civic hacking community)

2013_1015_071337 CfASummit

We’ll be live tweeting the event on our @SmartChicago account, but you can also follow along using the #CfAsummit hashtag. Below the fold, we’ve all the details of the Chicago area delegation.

Continue reading, the next stage in open data

Note: this is a guest post from Jonathan Giuffrida. Jonathan has been working at 1871 in one of the seats we maintain there for innovators in civic technology. Here’s more on that program.

Jonathan Giuffrida

Jonathan Giuffrida

This summer, I’ve been using Smart Chicago’s space in 1871 to help work on a new product that is intended to change the way we use open data. was conceived as a centralized hub for open datasets from around the country. Funded by the NSF and the MacArthur Foundation, and led by a team of prominent open data scientists, researchers, and developers, it is a collaborative, open-source solution to the problems inherent to the rapid growth in government data portals.

The primary innovations of Plenario focus on making data easier for anybody to find, access, and download, regardless of its original source or format, and to do so in a free and efficient manner. The result is an enormous improvement to the ecosystem that returns us to the core promise of making the data open in the first place – that it can help improve our cities, our governments, and our lives.

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